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O-Zone: Been done wrong

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Andrew from Pueblo, CO:
Hey John, the Jags didn't beat the Texans last season in two meetings and they beat the Colts once. Who do you think is more of a threat of competing with the Jags for the division – the Texans or Colts – based off the three teams' 2016 schedules?
John: Maybe it's just me, but I figure teams are favorites until they show otherwise – and I also figure teams should win their way out of the underdog role. Seen through that lens, because both the Texans and Colts finished ahead of the Jaguars in the AFC South last season, they are both more than threats; they are, in fact, the division favorites this season. I'd call the Texans – as defending AFC South Champions – the heaviest favorites and there's also the fact that the Jaguars have lost their last four games against Houston. If the Jaguars are going to win the South, they need to figure a way to change the Texans thing.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-Man, for a second there I felt bad for the practice-squad players that they would never make the "real team." Then, I remembered that they make more than most of us on the practice-squad playing a game for a living. Where do I sign up?
John: You're referencing a recent O-Zone answer in which I made the point that it was relatively rare for practice-squad players to become core players. While this is true, this in no way means practice-squad players never make the "real" team. Quite the opposite is true, and it actually is very common for players to make the team from the practice squad. As for how much practice-squad players make … yes, the weekly salary last season was at minimum $6,000 per game. Yes, that figures to $96,000 a year. Yes, that's good money. It also means being good enough to merit being there, so you can sign up – but to get there, you have to earn it.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-Zone, if the Jags keep four running backs on the active roster and three spots are taken by T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory and Denard Robinson, who would you predict gets the last spot between Corey Grant and Jonas Gray?
John: In your scenario? Gray, because one roster spot figures to come down to either Grant or Robinson – and that spot figures to be decided on which of those two players is returning kickoffs.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
With you essentially being embedded with the team, even sharing fro yo machines, what do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions Jags fans have about the Jaguars team?
John: I've heard it said often that "that O-Zone guy" is not only shockingly handsome, kind to children and animals, subtly charming and irresistible to women, but that he is a Humanitarian of the First Order. It's humbling to have people say it, but it's a bit much.
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
Jalen Ramsey, Davon House, Aaron Colvin, Prince Amukamara - those are four good corners, but you almost never see a defense with four cornerbacks on the field at one time. Who gets left on the sideline in three-receiver sets?
John: This scenario won't come into play until at least Week 6 because Colvin is suspended for the first four games of the regular season and the Jaguars have a Week 5 bye week. I'll assume Ramsey will have established himself as a starter by then, so I'd say Amukamara will be the one on the sideline in your scenario.
Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
I see a lot of questions showing angst over our ability to keep all of our core players over the next couple years; frankly, it's not a concern. The Jags have a TON of cap space, and this is before we look into cap tricks like restructuring and letting older guys with higher numbers go first. To keep things in perspective: Carolina had 10 players in the Pro Bowl and reportedly had $30 million in cap space (fourth-best, after the Jaguars at No. 3). You can keep plenty of good players before you have to start thinking about making sacrifices, especially if you're building the roster the way the Jaguars are.
John: There's a lot of truth in this, though in order to continue having a favorable cap situation you must manage it diligently and make wise decisions along the way. You must identify and develop core players wisely … but yes, you can keep enough core players to be competitive so long as the quarterback is playing at a high level.
Tucker from New York:
Is there a system in place to support rookies financially between the draft and when they ultimately sign their rookie contract? If they're expected to report to the team facility for minicamps and organized team activities, how do they pay for lodging and meals without a salary?
John: Teams house and feed rookies during the offseason program.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Glad to hear Kelvin Beachum will be ready for training camp. I assume a fairly quick decision regarding left tackle must be made so they can decide on the first-team offensive line and get them working together as soon as possible. How do you see the competition at left tackle being managed? Switching days between Luke Joeckel and Beachum, switching reps? Maybe a full week for each while the other is at left guard? Any insight?
John: First off, while the Jaguars are optimistic Beachum will be ready for training camp I don't know that that's set in stone beyond reasonable doubt. When he returns, I would imagine he and Joeckel will switch days working with the first team for a while – similar to how Luke Bowanko and Stefen Wisniewski switched days/practices working with the first unit at center last training camp. My guess is that will be the setup for about three weeks – until around the third preseason game. I think the Jaguars generally are entering training camp with the idea that Beachum probably will end up winning the job with Joeckel starting at left guard. I'm still of the idea that Joeckel will be tougher to beat out than many believe, but we'll see.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
The whole changing of pass interference to a 15-yard penalty is a bad idea. As you said, that would tempt players to take a 15-yard pass-interference call instead of allowing a 40-yard touchdown pass. We already have a sport where penalties are used in the game like that; it's called basketball where deliberately fouling a guy is part of the game. No thanks.
John: I wouldn't worry about this rule changing. I've never heard much real discussion about it changing, likely for the reason we both cited – and because the current interference penalty is strikingly fair. If a penalty obviously prevents a long reception it seems reasonable that the punishment should be the yardage.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
Here are my thoughts on Poz in coverage: It seems he gets the proper depth, and takes the angles he needs to take to get to the spot he needs to be in. He seems to play coverage the way he is supposed to play. The issue is when he has to cover someone who can run faster, which is a lot of players, and also when the quarterback makes a good throw. He simply can't run as fast. Contrast that with Myles Jack who can run, but his inexperience will lead him to being out of position often until he gains experience. They can't all be Deion Sanders. I'm pretty sure there's only one of those.
John: There's little question that Myles Jack eventually will be a significantly better coverage linebacker than Paul Posluszny. That may even be the case in the next few months. I don't think Posluszny will be the only NFL linebacker to fall into the category of not being quite as good in coverage as Jack.
John from Starke, FL:
I'm glad I don't have Dave's job or Gus' job of deciding the final 53-man roster and I bet you're glad, too. My 39-day plan is to improve my grilling skills to be a better tailgater. On away games I can use my big smoker. What's your favorite meal?
John: I don't know how glad I am that I don't have the jobs held by Dave Caldwell or Gus Bradley, though I'm pretty sure Jaguars fans are glad. At the same time, I don't imagine this year's cut to 53 players is going to be all that difficult; most of the positions seem fairly set. My favorite meal? Turkey Pot Pie. What else?
C.J. from DUuVaalll!:
Dear John, how do you come up with your titles for O-Zone?
John: I meditate on people who've done me wrong, think of the title they might dislike the most and choose that one. Meditation on people who've done me wrong is a big part of my daily routine.

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